Monday, February 16, 2009

16 February 2009


  • Africa = Human Rights Watch has issued a report about HIV/ AIDS related human rights abuses against women and girls in Africa. Available here. (HRW)
  • Burundi = is debating a new criminal code that would—for the first time ever in Burundi’s history—criminalize consensual homosexual sex. No, no, no! (HRW)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo = Aid workers are accusing the Emergency Relief Coordinators of the UN of not protecting the people they are there to protect, and not stopping massacres they know are in progress. The UN says that they only have 300 peacekeepers – most of whom are engineers protecting the airports – for 6,000 square kilometers of rebel territory. So … shouldn’t the UN increase the number of peacekeepers in the area? Ask Alan Doss to do just that. (BBC)
  • Ethiopia = Greater and greater numbers of people from Somalia are seeking refuge in Ethiopia. They are fleeing both general insecurity in Somalia as well as accusations that they are sympathetic with a foreign source and/ or that they have converted to Christianity. (AT, BBG)
  • Ghana = Outgoing President Kufuor commuted all death sentences in the country before leaving office and encouraged the new President, John Atta Mills, to abolish the death penalty entirely in Ghana. (AI)
  • Libya = is writing a new Constitution! Gaddafi’s son is apparently leading this effort. The new Constitution will allegedly adopt the system of direct democracy as a way of governance and will modernize the mechanisms of practicing this authority by the citizens without canceling previous documents like the Declaration of the People’s Power. The content of this new proposed Constitution is still largely unknown. Something to keep your eye on … (AT, TG)
  • Nigeria = the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, and other national, regional, and international bodies, including Human Rights Watch, urged legislators and the president to reject a bill before Nigeria's National Assembly to ban "same gender marriage." (HRW)
  • South Africa = Dock workers in South Africa are refusing to unload Israeli goods – to show their solidarity with the Palestinians! Yay. (DN)
  • Sudan = Human Rights Watch issued a report titled, “There is No Protection” about the current security situation for civilians in Sudan, and in Darfur in particular. You can read the HRW report here. (HRW)
  • Zambia = President Banda commuted the death sentences of 53 prisoners, giving them life in prison instead. (AI)


  • Afghanistan = A former UN Human Rights Investigator, Cherif Bassiouni, was fired from the UN after releasing a report in the United States criticizing the US of committing human rights abuses upon Afghani people. He accused US troops of arbitrarily breaking into people’s homes, arresting the residents and torturing detainees. The torture allegedly consisted of sexual abuse, torture, beatings, and the use of force resulting in death, violating international treaties and the ideals of humanitarian law. Who is answerable for forcing out Mr. Bassiouni? Anyone know? It’d be great if we could all contact that person. (DN)
    • Meanwhile, the US has signed a declaration with Afghanistan to attempt to reduce civilian casualties. (AJ)
  • Israel = allegedly deported 10 passengers on a ship from Lebanon who were trying to deliver aid to Gaza. Israeli forces opened fire on the captain, crew and passengers and assaulted them after coming aboard. Another 18 passengers are still in Israeli custody. The ship carried 60 tons of supplies, including medical equipment. (DN)
    • See previous posts for the US position on Israel-Palestine relations. It’s just not logical.
  • Pakistan = the national government has agreed to restore Sharia (Islamic) law, in the Swat Valley and other areas in the country's northwest as part of a peace deal with local pro-Taliban fighters. How is this deal “promoting peace” if it ends up oppressing all of the ladies? (AJ, BBC)



  • United States = The Senate Judiciary Committee leader, Senator Patrick Leahy, suggested that a Truth Commission be convened to investigate the Bush era. Leahy has said that the purpose of this is to assemble the facts, and “at least find out what happened … Those who testify will be offered immunity. Those who do not testify may be prosecuted based on evidence from others’ testimony … and, of course, anybody can be prosecuted for perjury. It may be the ONLY way to get the truth out.” President Obama is allegedly considering this proposal. (DN, MSNBC, NYT)
  • United States = The 9th Circuit Federal Court in San Francisco is considering the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Bush administration in the case regarding the transport and torture of 5 terrorism suspects who were picked up in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. This case came before the court during the Bush administration, which pleaded the State Secrets defense to get the case dismissed (State Secrets defense = it would jeopardize national security to even talk about this case in court). The Obama administration is repeating this blanket State Secrets defense. Kinda makes you wonder about the whole transparency issue. (MSNBC, ABC)
  • United States = DirecTV has refused to air a pro-Palestinian advertisement on their channels. Click here to take action. (DN, AUPHR)
  • US = More people in the military committed suicide in January 2009 than were killed in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. What will it take for us to recognize the reality and effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Currently in the US military, sufferers of PTSD are not eligible for the purple heart medal. Not cool. (DN, NPR)


    • This South African activist completed a 3-week hunger strike to draw attention to Zimbabwe’s human rights and humanitarian crises, including the cholera epidemic, financial collapse, failure of basic services, and human rights abuses against both civilians and opposing party politicians. (BBC, HFP)
  • ACTIVIST HIGHLIGHT: Alison Des Forges
    • Activist for the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region and genocide expert, Alison Des Forges was killed in a plane crash this week. You can read Human Rights Watch’s tribute to her here. (HRW)
  • Cambodia = is finally trying leaders of the Khmer Rouge for human rights abuses committed 30 years ago. In this instance, the revolution WILL be televised. (AJ, NYT)
  • Hungary = A Hungarian woman appealed to international law – in the form of CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) -to stop her abusive partner from further harming her. This remedy is not available to American women because our great nation has not yet ratified CEDAW. (HRW)
  • Sri Lanka = is threatening to expel foreign aid workers and journalists in this 3rd year of war between the government and the rebel Tamil Tigers, now that the military is capturing the last of the rebel bases. The Sri Lankan government has accused reporters from CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera of being sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers. Independent journalists are not allowed in the conflict zone. The current humanitarian situation is poor—250,000 civilians are trapped in the midst of the fighting in the Mullaitivu district. Meanwhile the foreign minister says, “there are no human rights abuses in our country.” (DN, AI)
  • Russia = Human Rights Watch has issued a report of the status of migrant workers in Russia. People who are migrant workers face many challenges, including being denied wages, threats of violence and police abuse. Check out the report here.

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